"Strange Wilderness" DVD Review
May 15, 2008 by Zach Demeter
I knew right away when the trailer for this film began playing in front of my face that I’d regret watching it. I let it continue rolling and I actually surprised myself: I laughed. Yes, it was that goofy shark scene that should have been about as funny as breaking a finger, but I continued to laugh and repeatedly rewound the trailer just to watch that one segment. It was silly of me to hope that the movie could contain a similar level of hilarity, but I had hoped against all reviews and critical bashing that a Happy Madison production would at least deliver a few laughs…and that’s exactly what it did. It delivered (very) few laughs.
After his father passed away, Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) was faced with inheriting his father’s wilderness show. Gaulke and his hodgepodge crew eventually made a mockery of the show and even during its 3am timeslot, it was a disaster in ratings. Facing cancellation, Gaulke takes on the search of the elusive Bigfoot in hopes that he’ll receive a ratings boost to save his father’s historic show. Alongside Zahn we have co-stars Jonah Hill, Ashley Scott, Peter Dante and Justin Long as his faithful crew who stick with him through all of the bad times…and there are many.
With such a strong cast, you have to wonder how this film smacked its face into the wall of stupid so severely. I’m completely bewildered how they were able to take this concept, which is, admittedly, a tad bit unique since I can’t recall any comedies about a wild life show host, and completely fill it with jokes that never make their mark and just overall fail to entertain. That’s the films biggest flaw in that it doesn’t entertain the audience; by the time the humorous shark bit from the trailer actually showed up in the film I was so unamused by the film that I didn’t even laugh at it. If ones sense of humor were like ones sense of taste, I’d say the film burned my sense so badly that it caused me to lose my sense of humor. It just really became a drag to watch and the films very few chuckle-worthy jokes (there were two) just made you sad that a room full of talented and funny actors helped make this pile of wilderness excretion possible.
Normally I have a pretty fun time at writing negative reviews; there’s something easier to grip onto when you really didn’t enjoy a film, but I can’t even seem to do that with Strange Wilderness. There was so little substance in the film that it slipped through my mind like a wet bar of soap through my hands. I know it passed through there, but I just couldn’t hold onto anything after it left my grip. The film leaves no lasting impression on you and I just don’t know how one could truly enjoy the film.
Now I’m well away that there are stoner movies and that being high during them can make them infinitely entertaining, but unless while being high you like to watch absolutely nothing happen on the TV and wish nothing more than to giggle and curse at the random obscenities, then by all means…watch away. Unfortunately my home theater setup doesn’t have stoner vision yet, so I can’t view this one in its preferred viewing format.
Remarkably the always offensive Jonah Hill manages to be completely unentertaining here. Even during the behind the scenes segments he seems bored and not entirely thrilled to be on the set. Admittedly I’ve seen Hill in some roles that aren’t representative of his true capabilities, but with this being an R-rated comedy and plenty of room for him to improv, the best he can do is sing like Bob Dylan with lyrics about hating his parents and siblings. Not sure what they were hoping to accomplish with this, but there you go.
Obviously the film is a giant wreck of a feature and it fully deserves its 0% on Rotten Tomatoes in every way, shape and form. It’s simply an unfunny hour and a half and when they spent a couple minutes on a sequence dedicated entirely to mocking someone for being named “Dick” (oh my, it’s so funny! He’s named Dick. Also, its 1990, when this joke was still funny!), you have to question exactly who greenlit this film and why they thought it would be successful. Sometimes I can see where companies decide to make a film, even when it fails…but this one simply baffles me. Avoid It and throw away any copies that come your way.
Strange Wilderness arrives in a standard DVD case with no slipcase, insert or fancy disc art (plain, Paramount grey wash is included, however). Menus are simple and easy to navigate and the film’s 2:35.1 aspect ratio (such a strange ratio to use on a comedy, I swear) looks clean and clear. There was some softness to the picture at times, but that was mostly during the horrible CGI sequences. Audio is a decent 5.1 mix, but honestly with this film I don’t think you’re going to care.
The extras for the set are rather impressive, I must say. The three behind-the-scenes featurettes, “Cooker’s Song” (5:47) showcases the “hilarious” song by Hill in the movie, “The Turkey” (6:47) shows Steve Zahn legs spread with a fake turkey in his crotch (oh and there’s some technical talk too) and “What Do We Do?” (6:06) shows off the board room sequence with some fair improv. They don’t really have any particular flow, just behind-the-scenes shots from beginning to end. It’s kind of interesting to see some antics going on, but nothing that you’ll care about.
“Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness” (21:15) is the longest extra on the disc and has interviews with the cast about the film as well as…a huge amount of clips from the film. I’m talking a lot here; you’ll be watching the film for the most of it. They aren’t even really the good bits here either, which makes it…a total waste of time. Finally there are thirteen deleted scenes (22:12) and…wait, what? Thirteen? Are you serious? Yes there are thirteen and they’re all of the same quality as the film itself. They’re all time coded and stamped with the production studios company name, so don’t go stealing these scenes, they’re very precious.
Overall: the film is stupid. There’s little redeemable quality and you’d be better served renting the individual actors films that they’re actually good in rather than watching this one. Avoid It.
Strange Wilderness arrives on DVD on May 20th.